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Best Vegan Protein Sources: How to Get Enough Protein as a Vegan or Vegetarian

Updated on July 16, 2012

Where do Vegans get Protein?

"How do you get protein as a vegan?" It's a question that vegans are used to hearing. But, in truth, it's not actually that difficult to eat enough protein as a vegan or vegetarian.

According to the World Health Organization, the average adult needs to consume one gram of protein per kilo of lean body mass each day in order to stay healthy. That means that a small woman needs about 50 grams of protein per day, whereas ideally the average man eats 70-80 grams of protein. Most meat-eaters consume far more than 100 grams of protein every day, potentially putting a strain on their kidneys, which have to deal with the by-products of protein breakdown.

Best Vegan Protein Sources

1. Soy beans, tofu, yofu and soy milk

Soy beans, which have been eaten in Asian countries for thousands of years, contain the complete range of amino acids that the body needs. As well as boosting protein intake, soy beans contain healthy phytoestrogens actively work to lower cholesterol levels in the blood. The FDA recommends eating 25 grams of soy protein every day to unblock arteries and promote cardiovascular health. Soy is particularly beneficial for post-menopausal women, whose lower levels of estrogen lead to many health issues.

You can eat soy in the form of tofu (delicious in vegan stir-fry), edamane, soy yogurt (known as yofu), or soy milk.


2. Quinoa

Quinoa is a good protein source for vegans and vegetarians. One serving of quinoa contains as much protein as one large egg, so it is a good food for vegans trying to increase their protein intake. Quinoa is a grain that tastes a bit like rice, but it is much more nutritious.

3. Leafy Greens and Sea Vegetables (Spinach, Kale, Seaweed)

Leafy green vegetables are a little-known vegan protein source. Dark green leaves pack a surprising amount of protein into a very small number of calories. Sea greens are also good vegan protein sources: one sheet of nori seaweed (used in sushi) contains 1 gram of protein and only a few calories. Green vegetables are nutritious: they are high in iron, vitamin K and zinc – all of which are vitamins traditionally lacking in the vegetarian diet.


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    • Elderberry Arts profile image

      Claire 4 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      They look yummy.

    • topquark profile image

      topquark 4 years ago from UK

      When you're vegan, even dessert can be wholesome!

    • topquark profile image

      topquark 5 years ago from UK

      Thanks for commenting. I was originally vegetarian (not vegan) but realized that dairy products were giving me stomach aches, so I'm effectively vegan now.

    • Elderberry Arts profile image

      Claire 5 years ago from Surrey, Uk

      Good hub, voted up :) I am vegetarian but allergic to milk and egg yolk so this is useful for me. Nuts and beans are great as you cna do some much with them. Today I made some vegan allergen free sausages

    • Pauline Davenport profile image

      Pauline Davenport 5 years ago from Isle of Man

      my teenage daughter is vegetarian, and I found the protein information in this hub particularly useful and reassuring. The hub will help me a lot when I'm planning another meal for her - thanks topquark for this

    • sethpowers profile image

      sethpowers 5 years ago from Virginia

      Trying to find viable protein sources is a huge drawback to vegetarianism. Great hub!

    • topquark profile image

      topquark 5 years ago from UK

      Good point. I will add sections on nuts and beans.

    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 5 years ago from northeastern US

      what about nuts, nut butters and beans? i always heard these were good sources of protein, too.